Repairing a Jura Nespresso Machine

Or: The Story of the Oval-Head Screw and Kindness of Strangers

Summary

tl;dr — if you have an old Nespresso machine that won’t make espresso here’s the diagnosis quickstart:

  1. What the !@#$% are these oval screws?
    Somebody’s attempt to ensure repair-shop business, you can buy or build a socket to remove ‘em.
  2. Push buttons don’t work?
    Probably poor electric contact, clean the back of the push buttons and maybe re-apply graphite.
  3. Machine doesn’t draw water?
    Probably a stuck check valve, free it up with a long thin bamboo stick or by pushing/pulling air via a syringe.
  4. Water leaks out the bottom?
    Probably a cracked elbow joint in the high-pressure line from the pump, your only hope is an original part from Europe bcos epoxy will not hold pressure.
  5. Machine won’t turn on?
    If it’s not bad push buttons, check if the in-line thermal fuses have opened; parts are cheap and are not on the circuit board, so the repair is not too diffcult.
  6. Rapidly blinking lights instead of coffee?
    Probably a failed electronic part, here are the usual suspects:
  7. The large rectangular capacitors on the little circuit board have failed for many, replacements are cheap but you have to be handy with a solder iron.
  8. The temperature sensor in the heater block may have failed. Tiny part so it’s difficult to repair, might need an original part.
  9. If you prefer video over text, here’s 15 minutes of explanation on opening and repairing a machine:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDdAWKuCvhA

My Story

A few years ago my family bought me a basic Nespresso espresso machine, which is made by Jura in Switzerland. It uses little sealed coffee capsules like this one.

The upside to the capsules is that they yield a very nice espresso shot with no skill required and absolutely no mess on the counter. The downside is that they are only available from Nespresso and as of this writing cost US$0.55 each plus shipping. [Update 2020, capsules finally off patent, price up to US$0.70-0.85 from Nespresso but only US$0.50 from Trader Joe and elsewhere!]

We used the machine for a couple of years, generating a nice recurring revenue stream for Nestlé while making our morning lattes. But over time the power button became recalcitrant. First it required two pushes to go on, then three pushes, then coaxing with a pencil eraser, and this got ever worse until I was standing there for the better part of a minute pushing, pushing, pushing while waiting for the DANGED (ahem) light to start blinking. Naturally it was out of warranty by then, and sending it away for repair was almost as expensive as a new one. I actually eyeballed a new machine in some mall store where I noticed that the latest Nespresso models have a simple toggle on-off switch, so I sorta suspect this power-button trouble happened on a lot of machines.

So off to the workbench, where I found that the machine’s sides are held in place by four screws recessed about 1 inch. And the screws have oval heads. I’d never seen anything like that before, and the security-driver kits at Sears had nothing to offer. The deep recess meant a needle-nose plier would not work. I’ve never seen a consumer appliance protected this carefully.

A quick web search found a special tool on ebay for $40. Ouch! I didn’t know if the machine’s brain was bad or what, and $40 seemed like throwing good money after bad, so I let the machine sit on the bench.

A couple weeks (ok I admit it, it was months) later I found leftover capsules in the kitchen and posted a note to Craigslist for someone to take ’em for free. I grumbled in my note about the funky oval-head screws and offered to give away the machine along with the capsules.

Enter Dave H., a fellow New Jersey resident who responded to my post. His machine had mouse trouble (don’t ask), but he made a socket out of an old bolt! Look at this:

Even better, he sent me the socket!! Complete kindness to total strangers, I love Craigslist. His remanufactured bolt loosened the screws on the very first try. The screws only go into plastic so they require very little force to remove. Here’s the machine with the side panel removed for easy access to the power button. The heater is in front (below the drip tray), and the pump is buried in the middle.

Here’s a close-up of the super secret special swiss oval-head screw (in the middle). I put calipers on it and by comparing it with drill bits estimate that the head is 1/8" at the narrowest and 5/32" at the widest. (Of course it’s probably metric but I don’t own metric drill bits.) Anyhow just 1/32 inch difference is enough. The plain slotted screw I chose as a replacement is on the right.

Well, back to the original problem, turning on the machine. The power switch assembly consists of a small circuit board and a molded silicon button. I loosened a bracket behind it (the screw required a Torx driver size T-10) and pulled out the circuit board with the button. Here’s a shot of the board and button:

The inside of the button (showing) touches the circuit board when pressed, and springs back a few mm when released. There is no clicky or other moving part on the circuit board, it only has two copper areas exposed, an outer area and a circular inner area (a bit hard to see). Somehow the button completes a circuit when it touches the board. I’m not an EE at all (as has been made very clear to me at work :-) but silicon conducts power?? The end of the button is black as if it were coated in carbon, maybe that’s the secret.

The board didn’t look cracked, so I resorted to the obvious: clean everything. I windexed the board and the end of the rubber button, put them back in place .. and it worked again!! First touch turns on the machine. I was stunned. That’s the happy ending.

If you have one of these machines with power button trouble, the hard part is getting the case open. In my machine the apparent trouble was schmutz blocking a connection. Here’s a side view of the bolt so you can get a better sense for the dimensions, along with the wacky oval-head screw one more time.

Thanks again to Dave H. for making and sharing this little socket. He wouldn’t even accept a pack of capsules for his trouble!

You will also need a Torx driver size T-10, it should be easy to buy or borrow locally.

Need a socket?

You have a few choices — borrow, buy or build.

Borrow a socket!

You can borrow a socket from me if you like. As you’ll see below, various sockets have circled the globe! If you borrow one, you have to send me a picture of your machine’s guts for this page. :) If there’s a queue, you must send it along within a few days. More commonly there is no queue, which means you’ll have to hang on to it for weeks until someone writes me.

Buy a socket!

You can buy a tool to extract the oval-head screws on a Jura nespresso machine:

Build a socket!

If you already have your machine on the bench and don’t feel like waiting for a tool to arrive in the mail, look below for some advice on building a tool to turn the oval-head screws. Reusing a part from Ikea seems to be the easiest option.

In April 2009 Jakou posted details on reworking a part from Ikea into a socket to turn these pesky oval-head screws. He reused a fastener that Ikea ships with their furniture (see picture at right). This fastener is about 2.8cm (1 1/8 inches) long and consists of two parts: a hollow sleeve plus a matching M4 (metric 4mm diameter) screw. An Ikea store often will give these out on request but sorry I don’t have a part number.

The only required tool is a pair of pliers to squeeze the open end of the sleeve. The picture here is straight from his blog.

Read the whole discussion (en français!) at the link below. If you don’t understand French, a Google translation is pretty good. Many thanks to Elvire Serres for sending me this link.
http://www.tout-electromenager.fr/forum_lecture-4775-4-1.html

Also scroll down to see more details about Ikea bolts from Mr. Arenas of Barcelona.

Mico N. of The Netherlands offers this advice to build a metal socket:

What I did was look around for an aluminium object (which can be drilled easily) and would fit nicely in the recessed holes my machine has to get to the oval head screws. Some were recessed 30 millimetre deep. My eye caught this scalpel-like hobby knife holder and it is a perfect match! You can buy these knives in the hobby shop for a few Euros/Dollars. I measured the thinnest part of the oval head screw with a caliper and this turned out to be exactly 3.2 millimetres. Luckily I still had a 3.2mm metal drill in my toolbox so I placed the hobby knife holder in the vise and tried to drill a hole as much in the middle as I could. As you can see from the photo I need more practice to find the middle :-) After drilling a hole into the knife holder of about 5mm deep I moved the drill from left to right in a straight line to make the hole into an oval shape similar to the screw. After a while it was a perfect fit and I successfully used my “tool” and unscrewed the oval heads from my Nespresso machine.

Jacopo L. of Milano, Italy offers this advice to build a plastic socket:

Just take a pen (a Bic is perfect for this job). Pull out the bottom cap and the ink cartridge. Heat the tip of the casing a bit just to melt the plastic and make it soft. Then press the tip on the oval head and wait 30 seconds to let it cool down. Done. Now you have a perfect — tailor made — oval screw driver!

However, several people have written me to say that they had poor luck with making a plastic tool. They melted several Bic pens but still were not able to turn the screws. So your mileage may vary here.

In August 2011 Rolfje blogged with advice on opening a Krups XN2001 machine. He glued bits of metal with a slot to the oval screw heads. The picture on the right is straight from his blog.
http://rolfje.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/how-to-fix-a-krups-xn2001-nespresso-machine/

Need Parts?

Here are two resources.

  • Peter N, the Jura Capresso Doctor, sells parts for Jura and Jura-Capresso machines, at present thru eBay. But since the Nespresso machines are made by the same Swiss manufacturer (Eugster-Frismag) that makes the Jura, some of the parts like internal O-rings may work for Nespresso machines too.
    https://www.ebay.com/str/juracapressodoctor
  • Coffeemaker Spare Parts is a store in Kiefersfelden, Bavaria, Germany with an English-language web site. They sell Nespresso repair parts and ship worldwide, but the shipping charges outside Germany are really high.
    http://www.coffeemaker-spareparts.com/Spareparts-Nespresso:::60.html

Machine Repair Stories

Below I’ve gathered pictures and stories of machine repairs — some successful, some not. Many machines were opened with a socket that I’ve lent out. :)

Update 30 July 2010: Dave’s socket traveled to San Francisco, CA to help Thayne N. repair his Nespresso D90. Success!

Update 29 September 2010: Third trip to California, this time to Jen L. in Encinitas. She opened her Essenza and convinced both sets of push-button switch contacts to work again! That’s three successes and counting. Here’s a movie of her machine doing its thing after the repair.

Update 22 October 2010: The socket continued its European journey to Geneva, Switzerland. There it helped Tony T. open his machine and clean the contacts, the same repair that I did some months ago. Success number four! He sent me these before and after pictures of the contact circuit board.

Update 19 November 2010: Fourth visit to California! Bill V. of Northridge used the socket to open his C100 and clean the power switch contacts. His machine’s switch has three wires, a small LED in the middle of the board, and a translucent rubber push button. He reports that it works fine again, and shared this photo gallery of the repair process.

Update 10 December 2010: First visit to England. Tom Q. in Basildon, Essex, UK used the socket to open his Siemens machine. Unfortunately the fault was not in any obvious places like the switches and he was not able to repair it.

Update 18 December 2010: Back to the U.S., the socket visited Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, where Ivan B. used the socket to open his Jura F60.

Update 19 October 2011: Niek V. of Arnhem, The Netherlands disassembled his Nespresso Cube after making further adjustments to the aluminum socket. He diagnosed two blown thermal fuses and replaced them successfully! He reports:

I fixed the Cube yesterday, it was so easy with the right tool! The 2 thermo fuses screwed to the heating element were defective, so I replaced them for €3,50! At Nespresso they asked €150,- for repairing it! To find the problem I started to measure voltage from the connector (230V 50Hz) to the printed circuit board to see if there is a strange value. From the connector it goes first to the on/off switch and from there to the 2 thermo fuses. The values were right (230V) until I measured after the fuse, there was no voltage, then I measured OVER the fuse with an Ohm meter (resistance). It should give a value greater than 0 but it was 0 or OL (infinite resistance), so then you know the fuse has done its work and is broken. So I took them out and read what was on them. My fuses are: Microtemp, Stabln, E5A00 167 C (degree), so I went to the electronics store and bought 2 thermo fuses (they are also available at Amazon). I replaced them, put it all back together, pushed the on button and it worked. The result was a fine cup of coffee!

Update 21 November 2011: Manny C. in Princeton, TX opened his Capresso to fix a leaky hose.

Update 7 December 2011: Noel L. from Puerto Rico reports the following experience:

I also noticed that if you pinch the soft button from the outside, and pull it out at the same time, it starts working again. Somehow, accumulated dirt or sulfate is removed by pinching and pulling the button. This is really convenient especially if you are in a hurry and do not have time to uncover and repair the machine. I hope this helps some Nespresso coffee lovers out there.

Second update 25 June 2014:

Today, I would like to update the same problem with another experience that will help many friends fix their clogged buttons without breaking apart the machine:

When pinching the buttons do not do the trick, if you spray a small amount of Silicone Spray on the power on and cup buttons, while having the machine at a horizontal position, this liquid will penetrate and reactivate the electric connection again and the machine will start working properly. Silicone acts like a cleaner and conductor and it dries very quickly. I use it also for my stubborn iphone home button and it works better than alcohol plus lasts longer. Although I don’t think the brand matters, the one I used is Liquid Wrench.

Thanks for maintaining this very useful blog.

Update 18 January 2012: Peter N. of Wilmington, NC, the Jura Capresso Doctor, wrote me a long note about the stuff he sells on eBay for repairing these machines. Peter was kind enough to send me a pair of sockets and screws. I’ll send one to the next person who joins the queue.

Update 8 February 2012: One of Mr. Arenas’ sockets went to Bruno T. in Lisbon, Portugal and he wrote me to report an easy victory:

Hello Chris
Just got the tools from Mr. Arena and in 5 minutes got my problem solve :). Please confirm that it’s to send it back to you or you have someone new in queu.
Thanks a lot
Bruno

Bruno also pointed out that the circuit board can be removed without pulling out the rubber button.

Update 10 February 2012: Well, this is a first :) Lee A. of Brooklyn brought his Nespresso machine all the way to my place in New Jersey, and using one of Peter N.’s sockets we opened it quickly. The screws could be turned pretty easily with just the supplied key ring, but we soon switched to turning the socket with a regular screwdriver-type tool holder for a bit better control. His machine is modern and has a regular toggle switch at the back to turn the power on and off, but still uses soft push buttons to start and stop the pump. Anyhow, the easy part is over; now Lee has to hunt down an elusive internal leak.

Update 12–12–12: Lee wrote me about his adventures in replacing a leaky plastic elbow joint, which is circled in the picture on the right. The two wide, flat openings on the side of the joint are for retaining clips that grab the O-rings inside.

My apologies for the extremely delayed response! Here’s the final result of my Nespresso project. I coated the broken one with epoxy and duct tape and it temporarily fixed the problem. Then Peter ordered me a replacement part which he then had to wait many months to receive. I put on the part but there was leakage problems so he sent me some replacement gaskets and some kind of water sealer/lubricant which I put around the gaskets. Now everything is fixed.

Update 6 September 2012: David A. from Atlanta, GA sent these directions for unsticking a stuck check valve.

My machine was not priming, so no water would flow from the tank to the rest of the machine. The pump is a simple diaphragm pump, with check valves to make sure the water only goes in 1 direction. Think of the check valve as a cap at each end of the pump with a spring to hold it in place. When the diaphragm is pushed in the flow direction, the water pushes past the caps (and the springs compresses a little bit). When the diaphragm moves in the non-flow direction, the caps prevents the reverse flow of water. In my case, the input cap was stuck. Unfortunately, the pump Nespresso uses can’t be disassembled, but there is a workaround.

To repair a stuck input check valve:

In addition to the screw removal tool (I used a spanner bit), you need a bamboo skewer (see photo) or something similar. Remove the two screws from the bottom of the machine holding the left gray cover on. Pull the bottom out, the top of the cover it latched to the machine.
Picture 1

There is a yellowish clear tube running from where the water tank sits to the input side of the pump. Pull it off.

Insert the bamboo skewer and push gently to depress the check valve.
Picture 2

Put the tube back on and test. If you have success, reassemble the cover.

Update 24 November 2012: Susy P. in Vevang, Norway opened her machine only to discover that the pump had failed, and the price of the new part was ridiculous. She reports that she jumped at a deal from Nescafe — buy 15 boxes of capsules and the machine is free! I’ve never seen that sort of offer in the U.S. Anyhow, no picture (yet) from Susy.

Update 19 March 2013: Alvaro G. of Malaga, Spain sent me a note about blinking lights on his Delonghi machine that refused to make coffee, including YouTube videos showing the symptoms:

The problem? My Nespresso is not a KRUPS, it’s a Delonghi model EN 95.P. It’s similar to the referred by Diana T in the 24 November 2011 quote. But mine has two green buttons (small & big) and the on/off is on the back. My problem is the blinking green lights, not the “dead” on/off button (that I don’t have in the same place… )

Videos showing the bad symptoms:
Video 1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJopqKtR85c
Video 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMcUcWyleIs
Video 3:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cF6QkJ_JEfk

Update 28 May 2013: Alvaro G. of Malaga, Spain wrote me again with happy news about his machine:

Thanks to Enzo of Turin (update 12 Nov 2012) for directions and email help! Less than 3$ fix !! I replaced both capacitors on the machine board. The big one is rated 680nF and 275 volts, marked “680nM275V-X2” and “PCX2337 MKP”. The small one is rated 220nF and 275 volts, marked “220nM275V-X2” and “PCX2337 MKP”. Both found on eBay with that information. Also available on Aliexpress.com but at a higher price. So thats it. Before blue color. After yellow.

The seller shop from where I bought the items (10 piece minimum) is
http://myworld.ebay.com/2012topdeal
and I have 9 of each available … if someone needs them I’ll be glad to give them away :)

Video Working machine again: http://youtu.be/mj8E97SQ1Og

Update 25 June 2013: Christophe M. in Toulouse, France fabricated a bit to open his Krups XN2120, and then repaired it with capacitors from Alvaro G.! He explains:

I found your blog a few days ago while looking for information on how to open Nespresso machines ; and especially their very odd screws. For the record, I tried the bic trick that worked for 2 but my hapiness stopped when I melted th pencil badly in the third cavity. I then decided to for something I can easily do with what I had. I came up with another variant of the tool (I attached the picture, as I’ve not seen something similar). It’s made out of a standard bit , nearly plain octogonal, in which I grinded a slot of about 3mm (damn, you’re probably in inches so the shorter dim. of the oval).

Update 24 July from Christophe:

A quick word to let you know that my machine is up and running again :-) Thanks to your blog and especially to Alvaro whose capacitors are doing a great job !!

Update 22 November 2013: After six weeks en route the steel socket finally reached Ricardo V. in São Paulo, Brazil who wrote:

Look at the beautiful thing that just arrived (“Just”). Customs + Post here s**ks ..
Here’s some photos, after the long way traveled by the tool. Thank you so much, I’m still trying to believe this internet power.

Update 25 May 2014: Onno M. from The Netherlands dropped me a line about his experience repairing his recalcitrant Nespresso buttons — remarkably similar to mine :) — and I’m happy to add a link.

http://www.glowbug.nl/oddsNends/KrupsXN2001.html

Update 3 June 2014: Dušan M. from Brno, Czech Republic completely reworked his ES 80 machine’s switches and sent me details about the result.

thank for many helps of your site.

My story : To first is thermosensor failed. I make new with NTS 100 kohm/25C. By repairing i make shortcircuit and circuit board fired up.

Now i had free hands to make anything…. I going back in to years 1990’s and make the Nespresso with “hand steering “. Only new pieces :
On-Off button for 1. heat circuit with thermostat 90 C
Control light
On-Off button for Pump/Kofee
On-Off buton for 2. heat circuit with 120 C Thermostat for steam

It’s all. Now is machine ready for long, long time.

Update 27 August 2014: Luke R. in Auckland, New Zealand wrote to borrow the socket and get capacitors:

I have stumbled across your blog on the Jura made nespresso coffee machine! I have a flashing light issue where the lights blink continuously and I can not get the machine to respond to anything … Now I can’t for the life of me remove these screws and I was wondering if there was one of tools floating about that could be posted to me here in New Zealand? … Also Avaro mentioned he had some capacitors available, how could I get in contact with him?

Ricardo V. sent the socket and Alvaro G. sent capacitors, thanks guys for your quick responses! After a long, long trip down under, on 28 September Luke wrote again:

The socket arrived this weekend! I have now opened my machine and much to my delight their was no water damage in sight! … I am now trying to work out the issue, I have 2 thoughts, possible air block in the system ( but then again this wouldn’t cause my lights to blink) … Orr the capacitors, so I will await their arrival and get them changed!

On 18 November I got the good word:

This is perfect timing, after a long wait on parts I finally fixed up my nespresso this Sunday and all is back together! I shall post the tool on to Chris D in the UK tomorrow morning and will also send over my before and after shots of my fix to you Chris L! I will also include the two capacitors that i replaced on my nespresso machine with similar flashing light issue in a hope that this speeds up Chris D’s repair. (very easy soldering jobby).

Update 29 August 2014: Vic from cyberspace shared instructions and pictures for fashioning a tool from an X-acto knife handle:

I fashioned the tool from an X-acto knife per instructions found on your blog. I enclose photos. I was able to open the C90 and test it. Found no obstructions impeding water flow so conclude that the pump must be failing. Importing a replacement pump from Europe would have cost more than the $99 Inissia from Nespresso. So I bought the Inissia. Their service department was very helpful and tested the unit with me over the phone. They came to the same conclusion. Their recommendation, surprisingly, was to keep the unit since it still worked but just took longer. I bought the new unit anyway; I didn’t want to run the risk of being without my espresso for a number of days. Here are the steps I followed in making the tool:

1. Use an xacto knife with a slim handle. It must fit into the screw hole.

2. If the tip of the handle is curved, file it down flat. It helps to use a vise. See photo.

3. Drill a 5/32 in. hole in the center of the handle — mine was not exactly in the center; no matter. It helps to use a C-clamp and a drill press. See photo.

4. Use a hammer and tap lightly on one side of the hole and then the other to change the shape of the hole from a circle to an oval. See photo.

5. Test the tool. If the fit is not right keep hammering a little at a time until the tool fits. Don’t try to adjust too much at one time.

6. Be sure to remove the blade before using the tool.

Update 31 December 2014: Ari N. of Santa Monica, CA dropped me a line to tell me all the details about a vacation-time repair aided by a bic pen, I confess I edited it slightly for length!

Happy New Year! I wanted to write you after reading your blog about the oval screws in the Jura Nespresso machines. I hope you’ll find my story interesting and unique…

… all we had to do was bring half a dozen tubes of Nespresso capsules. As soon as I had a free moment, I plugged in the machine, filled the reservoir, opened the lever knowing I would have to prime the pump, and fully expecting it to work, pressed the button… Almost all the normal sounds occurred, except no water came out. I pressed it again, moving the lever, checking the reservoir was seated properly, etc. After numerous adjustments, checking etc. I was dismayed and dejected that I couldn’t get it to work.

So I figured I would try to repair it by taking it apart (no usual problem for me). I was fearful that sitting at this beach hotel for 11 months, the pump or valves were rusted or some seals had failed. But figured I would try anyway.

I happened to have a hex key set and seeing a few Torx screws figured I could take it apart. But as you know that doesn’t get you far. I looked at the oval-head screws and figured those couldn’t be screws — they must be rivets! Damn Nespresso (Jura)! I guess they figured the machines are cheap enough and force you to buy new rather than repair. I then decided to google Nespresso repair and stumbled upon your blog.

What a goldmine! I was astonished to find that I could actually remove the (previously thought of as) rivets/screws! However I needed a tool today! Ordering one, machining one, getting one passed on were all non-options as I am on vacation with almost no tools and there is no home cheapo here or anything like it. However, reading about the bic pen, I thought, well maybe I’ll give it a shot. Turns out the little shop up the road actually sold them so I bought 3 (knowing it took one guy 3 tries). I was hoping that it was a stuck check valve and not something more serious and figured if I could get the cover off it was worth a try.

Suffice it to say I melted a pen, set it on a screw to get the shape and bingo, IT WORKED! Like a charm! I was incredulous and ecstatic. I then had to figure out how to get a bamboo skewer (in a small town in Mexico). I looked around our hotel room, and after trying a few small screwdrivers and such that I keep in my dop kit, realized that the ink insert I had removed from the pen was the perfect size tool!

Inserted it gently, replaced the hose, put the tank on, plugged it in, and BINGO, water started flowing out the dispenser.

Suffice it to say, my wife repeated that’s why she married me, and we now have espresso again every morning. Thanks to you. Didn’t even need to ask you to have Chris D. forward the tool to me.

I’ve attached a photo in case you want to use my story (hopefully edited for length) showing that all you need for this repair is a 70-cent pen and some fire. One thing to note that might be helpful to future readers using this method is that the pen needs to be melted quite sufficiently that the orifice melts small or closed and is well melted and you have to hold it onto a screw without moving until it sets hard (probably 15 whole seconds). If you do that, the shape of the inset/socket (as you can see from the photo) will be pretty perfect.

Update 9 January 2015: Jim O. of Germantown, IL sent me a novella (just kidding Jim! :) about repairing his drip coffee maker:

Hi Chris, Add me to the list of those indebted to you for your wonderful blog! Thank you! Thank you!

Because of your blog I was able to perform a fairly straightforward repair on my Krups 130A “Coffee Aroma” coffee maker. The problem was obvious: the power switch was failing — if I manually held the rocker switch in a position halfway between on and off I could still make a pot of coffee. Less than satisfactory if you’re making ten cups, which may take about 5 minutes to brew! No big deal, right? Simply remove the bottom of the coffee maker and change the switch out.

Wrongo! Like the other Krups tales of woe, there was a pair of oval-head tamper proof screws at the bottom of 3/8" diameter, 1 inch deep recesses in the base plate of my coffee maker interfering with my simple repair. I googled for “Krups coffee maker oval screws”, and I was fortunate enough to find your blog. Before trying to machine a metal tool, I decided to give the melted plastic pen technique a whirl. Finding one from my local credit union, I held the end in front of a MAPP torch flame. After a few seconds I could see a nice blob of molten plastic at the end of the pen. Plunging this into one of the bores till it bottomed out, I waited a few minutes, then tried turning the plastic barrel. I have to admit, I was not optimistic. I was surprised, then elated, when I easily turned the first screw out. Separating the screw from my pen tool, I easily removed the second screw. FYI … using a caliper, I measured the screw head ovals to be 5 mm x 5.7 mm

Getting to my repair now, my European-designed, assembled in Mexico, coffee maker had a 10-cent power switch made in China. Switch specifics:

lighted SPST rocker switch

3 spade connections — 3/16" tabs (most replacement switches are 1/4")

Hole dimensions: roughly 7/16" by 1"

I couldn’t find this switch any place in other than lots of 50 or more, so I settled on a $7 GSW-42 Gardner Bender switch that I could Amazon Prime to my home. It took a little whittling with a utility knife on the hole in order to make the new switch fit. I also had to cut off the three 3/16" spade connectors in my coffee maker and replace them with 1/4" connectors. Just got through putting the whole thing back together with, of course, two new sheet metal screws! Have attached pictures of the plastic tool with defeated tamper-proof screws, and the inside of the coffee maker with the original switch.

I noticed that you’ve added a Jan 2015 entry to your blog, so reasoned that you may still be taking on new material. If you judge my little narrative to be of any value, please feel free to add. I’ve spent more effort on this repair than the coffee maker may have been worth, but it was gratifying to extend the life of a perfectly usable appliance in an otherwise disposable society.

Update 17 January 2015: Kevin L. of Newcastle, NSW, Australia gave details of his battle with roaches in his friend’s Nespresso machine:

Whilst tearing my hair out trying to find a way of opening a friend’s leaking Nespresso Citiz, I stumbled upon your blog.

The melted ball-pen trick worked magically, but as you say, melt it down to a round blob at the end to get a strong and solid tool.

The cause of the leak became rapidly clear. Our local roaches, A. periplaneta and B. germanica, love the mouth-feel of silicone rubber, and if they get water at the same time, even better! Did I mention they also like warm and dark?

As a local repairman said to me, they are what keep us in business, because the ones that don’t chew pipes and insulation short out the electrics.

The cause of the problem is clear, you can even see the chew marks.

As these are all at the low pressure end, I’ll replace the damaged segments. All else is OK.

Thanks for the inspiration and a fascinating blog

Update 1 February 2015: Jaco van der L. of The Netherlands reported a new source for an oval-head tool, and also success with fixing a leak (but I couldn’t show all of his pictures):

[The source] is a Dutch site, but I don’t think that will be an issue:
http://www.esprase.nl/product_info.php?products_id=569
Including delivery cost (within Holland) it was 8,88 euro.

My Nespresso Citiz & Milk was leaking water, so I bought a tool (a 1/4 inch bit costing 7 euro) and opened it up. On picture 1 you see which part comes off first. You do have to work on the internal fixations a bit, maybe picture 2 is helpfull in understanding where to get it open without damaging it. The next step is to loosen all cables and connections, as shown in picture 3. Then the main housing can be taken off. After removing the 4 screws, it comes off easily (picture 4). The 2 flexible tubes are for water feed and aeration to and from the water beaker. I noticed that the aertion connection had come loose. With a bit of manouvering and use of screwdrivers I was able to reconnect it without further opening the machine, see picture 6.

Update 24 March 2015: Mary M. of Wollongong, Australia found a way to fix an air-locked Nespresso machine. She reports:

I found your blog by chance as I’ve had problems with Nespresso N95 and was going to ask if your tool would find its way to Australia but first decided to try the “melting the bic pens method” for those horrible oval screws. Took a few goes but it worked!!! Thanks so much for your blog.

Only problem is now not sure how to fix Machine now.. Machine turns on fine but when I press the button to make coffee it’s making motor noises but not pumping water at all. Was hoping it was a loose hose but they all seem ok.

Turned out I didn’t need to take it apart at all. Apparently the internal pump gets air locked if machine not used for a while… found answer here. http://www.whichpodcoffee.com/nespresso-problem-water-coming/

Update 29 January 2016: Robert C. from Bahrain sent me a question about a C90 that I could not answer:

Very interesting blog, I was happy to find so many people interested in keeping their Nespresso Machines running. I’m living out in Bahrain and just had my work nespresso machine (C90) stop working the other day. It’ll turn on and go through the heating cycle, but once the coffee button stops flashing and I start making coffee, the machine stops and turns off. I managed to get it apart and made sure the check valve wasn’t stuck causing it to trip off. Have you seen anything similar or have any ideas? Thanks in advance for any help.

As I continued my troubleshooting, I hooked up the pump directly to 220V (Its a european machine) and the pump works fine. So I’m led to believe the electronics are the cause. I’m more of a mechanical type, so any help getting through the electrical troubleshooting would be great! Thanks again.

Frequent reader Ádám H. of Százhalombatta, Hungary spotted Robert’s question here and sent tips on 1 Feb:

I have two (three) tips, but I think the known capacitor problem is the thing here, there is possibility they cannot withstand the extra heat after start (barely working). The C90 is the manual essenza, so all the main parts are identical that of the automatic ones, so he can try the change of the 220nF and 470nF capacitors. The second tought is the triac driving the heater unit (the 3 legged chip with heatsink on it) but if the heater is heated up correctly I don’t think that it should be the problem. On third the elecrical grid at Bahrain, as I read, it is like at continental Europe (230V 50Hz) with a formerly GB plug type, but I cannot get information about the frequency tresholds, with the nespresso IC-s are really sensitive of, which also can cause this if the capacitors are worn, so we are back at the first point. Other then this I don’t really have ideas that can cause the machine to shut down when the pump is initiated (the pump’s capacitor is the 220nF one). Of course if the machine is dismantled already clean the buttons, they cannot cause this problem, but if it is already in pieces…

Robert wrote me again on 19 Feb with good news:

So I replaced the small capacitor a couple of weeks ago since that one was available in Bahrain, but the machine still had all the same symptoms. Now I just got the big capacitor in and it seems to have solved all the issues. So I would say for this problem you’re probably ok just changing out the big capacitor. Thanks for the help and keeping up the blog.

Update 30 January 2016: Gilles M. from Vernon, France customized his machine with an extra set of (working) buttons, and also created the awesome nespresso world tour visualization!

I found your blog and I must admit that I loved the travel stories of the tools !

After reading all the entries, I tried to build my own wrench, first with my 3D printer (what are they for, if not repairing stuff ?) then using the ‘drill-a-bolt’ method, since my ABS-printed wrench was too soft to unlock the screws.

Seeing some people reported a recurring issue, I decided to to the full makeover :

1. cut the heads of the oval headed screws so a regular screwdriver would be enough for next time (or at least for reassembling the parts)

2. replace the silicon buttons by standard temporary push buttons

Since the push buttons I had on hand were too small to fit the holes, I kept the silicon buttons as ‘labels’ with their power and coffee icons, placed a new green LED inside the coffee silicon button, rewired everything, and drilled two additional holes for the push buttons. I had to cut some silicon and part of the original PCB to have my push button go through, but it keeps the buttons nice and fit into the original holes. Look at the last picture to see how it looks in the end !

Update 28 March 2016: Lindsay G. from Australia offered much guidance about tools for working with security oval-head fasteners:

Originally i was going to write about my repair like everyone else, but as i was reading the blog — i felt in my opinion that there was a vacuum that i could fill. Before i could do anything with my machines — before i could start any repair — I needed to take out those screws. Seriously i tried everything on this blog to get the screws out, i even bought the screwdrivers from the referenced area above. Some of the tools strip out far too early and you can tell from the feel that they are made from cheap metals — even though there advertisement descriptions read otherwise. Some of the other screwdriver kits (such as the ones from harbor freight) don’t even have the oval screw bit anywhere in the case; while the other links are plainly the incorrect oval drivers. Although, It is noted in the header that the sets don’t have the oval screwdriver bit. I have to admit I did some wishful shopping in hopes that I would find that oval bit in those cases. I know shame on me… Chris said it well throwing good money away…

After some personal research and long chats with each company, i finally sourced a good list of some screwdrivers and screwdriver kits/sets that I think should be placed in the header portion of this blog [ which is done — Chris L. ]. After all — getting the screws out is the starting point that we all face; and if we could just get by that hurdle easily — it’ll allow us that extra energy to focus on what’s actually important — fixing the machine and getting back to enjoying a rich, smooth cup of java ;) okay, let’s begin. i promised Chris that i wouldn’t slander anyone in my write up. so the cheaply made screwdrivers that i bought that stripped out after a few turns — i won’t even bother mentioning; and i actually purchased every single one. i also double purchased some of the good ones, just in case they were bad. i ended up returning the spares of the good ones for a refund because i didn’t need them.

The first picture shows the n-usa-o, there should be a link in the top area of this blog for this one.

The second picture is a complete security screwdriver set with the oval bit in it. It has everything: magnetic handle, torx screw bits, and most importantly the oval bit. I love this set and I couldn’t live without it. Since I’ve owned it; it has successfully helped me repair so many machines — not just coffee machines. It is called the security-screwdriver-bit-set-102 [ link above also — Chris L. ].

Here’s a coupon for Newelectronx that I used that might still work for anyone looking to buy: “Newelectronx-Breast-Cancer-Awareness”. It gives 15% off. That helped me dearly on shipping expenses

Update 27 June 2016: Julian S. from Geneva, Switzerland fixed a trash-picked Nespresso Turmix 150 by replacing its capacitors:

Hi Chris, I found this site when trying to open a Nespresso Turmix 150, which was left as “broken” next to a garbage bin in the basement of my apartment block. In my experience, something that is apparently not working for one person can be fixed by another.

I couldn’t open it with my security set, so made up a tool from the inside of a brass shower door roller which had a 4 mm thread in the centre. I drilled this into an oval, added a long 4mm bolt as a handle and easily removed the security screws, then cut a slot in each head to allow a screwdriver to replace them.

The green LEDs seemed quite dim, and flashed slowly as the water heated up, then faster as it neared the correct temperature. When I pushed either of the cup size buttons, the pump buzzed on/off/on/off intermittently, taking several minutes to half fill the cup. I only had two 220n capacitors and one 330n (recycled from old wall socket power supplies), so replaced the 220n first with the same results. The 220n was not the faulty capacitor.

I then made up a larger capacitor from a 220n + 330n in parallel = 550n, hoping this would be enough capacitance, and it worked (see picture)! The LEDs flashed much stronger and brighter and the pump came on continuously. It seemed the full 680n is not needed, but I will buy one to add the correct value.

I hope this helps anyone with an intermittent pump problem.

Update 8 Jan 2017: Dan L. from Chicagoland shared his Citiz story:

That long blog posting you do about the oval screws for Nespresso machines — wow what a fantastic thread. Thank you so much for doing that.

My story with a Citiz.

It started leaking coffee into the base. It got really bad the day I brought home a brand new Breville Creatista machine. The machine was jealous, I guess. The oval screws, amazing. I ended up with a pair of needlenose pliers and was able to get all 6 screws off. On the Citiz they are not recessed, so it wasn’t too hard.

What was almost impossible though, was disassembling the machine. Whoa, all those plastic clips and weird construction. Even with the service manual http://www.olino.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/MagixmixManual4Pro.pdf and two videos of people taking one apart, it was still really difficult. Hate to mention this video, but it was the only one where the person actually takes the thing apart https://youtu.be/-MiH0MiNVxU

Turned out, the capsule clamp just needed to be really cleaned out. It was full of dried coffee.

Replaced the screws with #4 Philips head 1 inch screws with #4 stainless steel washers.

Without your blog thread, I would have never been able to get inside that machine and fix it. Thank you so much.

Update 25 April 2017: Mary A. of Saratoga, California solved an air-lock problem in her Nespresso:

Thank you for your blog on repairing a Nespresso machine! I’m not at all handy, but it gave me the confidence to order the key off of eBay and try a couple of things rather than sending the unit to the landfill. In the end I figured out that I just needed to get rid of the air by doing this: http://www.whichpodcoffee.com/nespresso-problem-water-coming/

I figured this out thanks to Mary M’s post from March 24, 2015.

Appreciate you keeping this site going as I’m sure I’ll run into one of these problems some day!

Update 22 May 2017: Vagelis K. of Athens, Greece fabricated a socket to repair his Krups XN2125:

Congratulations on your great page on repairing the Nespresso coffee machine.

Mine, a Krups XN2125, started to have an erratic behavior, running water for a few seconds and not being able to program the time, and ended up in not working at start-up: the light was blinking normally as at warm-up and gone to a quick blinking. Being hesitant to send it to an authorized Nespresso service (knowing that this would cost me nearly as much as buying a new one on offer), and being an experienced DIYer, I searched the Web and, gladly, found your blog.

What I immediately realized is that the problem lied on the two MKP X2 capacitors, which had to be replaced. And, reading the long story in your blog, I understood that the main issue is with the weird screws used on those machines.

I will describe to you how I got off those weird screws. Firstly, I managed to unscrew one of the smaller and shallower front screws with a suitable hex socket. I would use this screw as a guide to make a suitable wrench. I happen to have a mini lathe, so it was easy for me to make an initial hole on a piece of brass rod. The diameter of the hole was the small distance of the ellipse of the head of the original screw. I also happen to be a dentist, so I have a lot of burs. I found a suitable straight cylindrical bur with which, by trying continuously on the head of the screw, I managed to shape an elliptical form for the wrench. After that, I made a slot on the other side and it was a piece of cake to take out all the other screws.

I attach a couple of photos of the wrench that I have made.

All the rest was straightforward and no problem encountered. I changed the two capacitors and reassembled the machine. I didn’t even had to change the screws to more “normal” ones, since screwing and unscrewing with the wrench I made was just as easy as with any other screw. So, my Nespresso is again back in use and everyone in my family is enjoying again their Nespresso coffee.

I just want to thank you for your great help. Without the hints and information provided in your blog, my attempt to repair my Nespresso would be much more difficult. So, keep up the good work!

Update 13 Nov 2017: Henry K. of Maputo, Mozambique asked about the erratic behavior of his Magimix M100, but all I could suggest was gunk blocking the flow:

We have a second hand Magimix M100 that we don’t use often enough. When I went to make a coffee yesterday, it went gbrr and nothing came out. Not one drop. As though it was blocked.

A bit of googling and watching of videos later, and having realised I needed to deal with those infamous oval screws, I stumbled on your website. Amazing! How the internet used to be!

I had resigned myself to paying too much for a special tool and it taking ages to arrive. After perusing your blog, I first thought of trying the long nosed pliers option and popped to the hardware store this afternoon. When passing down the school supplies aisle, the bic solution you wrote about sprung to mind so I picked up a couple of bics just in case. So, the first two screws came out easily with the pliers. However the others were too deep. Given how easily they had turned this gave me the courage to try the bic solution. First time and good for four screws! Thanks to the DIY genius who thought that up!

Case opened, water flows through — but not well. No air blocking pipes.

But the pump is still temperamental/blocked. I keep pushing the coffee button: it whirrs and then a drop or a stream comes out. It then needs turning on again. (Same problem as Patrick in Cape Town — did he ever fix his?) I thought it was the button, but I took that apart, wiped with cotton bud, and couldn’t see anything wrong with it. (Do I need a special cleaning solution?) Pressing hundreds of times, I have managed to fill four tea cups with boiling water. Occasionally a few bits of gunk/dried coffee come out. It is improving. But it is not getting better in a predictable way. Sometimes nothing; sometimes 1–2 seconds of flow. Any thoughts? I think I need some DIY descale tips. Or has something gone wrong with the little circuit board? Re-reading your blog, it looks like we might be in capacitor territory… :(

Update 27 May 2018: Erica C. of Toronto, Canada borrowed the socket and cured her machine of an airlock problem. She writes:

I hope you are doing well. I am reaching out because I found your blog on the internet about the Jura Capresso machine repairs. I recently found mine (an Essenza C100) in a closet when we were moving, and didn’t think about it (we have been serious french-press coffee makers!). When I went to try it of course it didn’t work. It is warming up, the pump is trying to work, etc etc… but no water.

We tried all the typical airlock techniques, but no dice. It took me a while but I eventually found your blog, and I am blown away! It is amazing how many years of history you have on there. I read through the entire post and I am just so thrilled to have found something so perfectly representative about what the internet should be!

Anyway, we tried the Bic pen technique and got 4 out of 6 screws out of the machine… the shallow ones came out right away, and the two on the left also came out fairly easily (my tip — when you melt the pen, leave it on the screw for the 30 second wait time… it really cements them into the plastic and makes getting them out fairly easy. I guess you have to make sure you don’t meld it to the actual coffee machine though.

The last two screws, the deep ones on the right, are fully stuck in there though. To the point where my pen actually broke under pressure before the screw loosened. After the success with the first screws, I don’t know how these others have gotten themselves so jammed. It is both the screws on the one side, I tried them both.

Anyway, I am wondering if you know if I can fix the airlock just having the left side of the machine accessible — there is clearly air in the tubes, I can see the bubbles. I think the tube I need to access is on the other side. If I do need to open it, do you still run your metal tool exchange? I have looked on ebay, unfortunately the recommended tool doesn’t ship to Canada.

(.. insert long wait here for the socket to travel .. :)

I spent last night opening it — the final screw put up a good fight. I managed to clear out the air (it was fully airlocked) by using a baby syringe filled with water. Good news is that there don’t seem to be any other problems with the machine and it has run through several rounds of water perfectly!

I will be replacing the screws with easier to use ones!

Thank you so much, it was well worth the wait — the bic pen just couldn’t get that last screw out!

Update 12 June 2020: Guy H. of Albans, Hertfordshire, UK sent me this epistle:

Hello Chris from St Albans, Hertfordshire, UK!!

I wonder whether you are still keeping your long-running Blog article running and up to date?

Inspired by it and after a little bit of experimentation, a few failed attempts, much determination not to be beaten by a stupid machine — and a jot of serendipity — I had success in opening up my Krups Nespresso XN2001 which has been serving me faithfully for many years…. using a new simple idea and solution which you and future readers may be interested in.

I guess I must have had it for about 15 years or more, with very regular use. A few years ago the red power button got dodgy — I managed to source a replacement one from the internet but as I was unable to get the screws out at the time, I had to fit it using a trick I saw somewhere on the web (can’t remember where now). This comprised unclipping at the top and gently prising and holding back the panel without removing it — followed by a kind of “keyhole surgery” operation through a very narrow access.

But recently the green coffee button started playing up — so I thought in the first instance I would just try cleaning up the contacts. This did the trick (again using access without unscrewing) — but unfortunately getting the rubber button back into its hole via a couple of inch gap at the top is very difficult, and I managed to break it. So I have been living with a “workaround” for a few days… using the sheared off rubber as a “key” — pushing it through the front to make contact with.the switch which I shifted slightly further forward (this picture taken after subsequently removing the panel:

However this wasn’t particularly reliable or satisfactory — so I have sent off for a new rubber part. But as I didn’t want to risk breaking that one too, I though I would try to get the side off in the mean time, to give me better access and to make the repair easier.

After trying various things, and looking around the house and the garage, I was looking in my final place and was literally about to give up — when I found these in my stock:

I imagine you may have something similar over there — I call them “cavity wall fixings” — that you can use to fix things to plasterboard over bricks, or to other hollow internal partition walls.

So — I took the bolt out of one, squeezed the threaded end ever so slightly with a pair of pliers to make it oval — and fortunately/coincidentally the same size as the dreaded screw head… used pliers again at the other end to bend over the flange for easier leverage — and made this custom tool:

I inserted it into the recessed plastic channels which house the oval-headed screws, grasped the bent flanged end with my pliers, applied firm pressure into the machine and gradual anti-clockwise pressure — and although they didn’t really want to, amazingly both screws came out sullenly like two guilty children!!

So now I await the arrival of my new spare part through the post to complete the repair :-)

I thought you may just be interested, seeing as you have quite an interesting history on the topic!

Take care and kind regards

Update 29 Nov 2020: Andrew v.d.M. of Cape Town, South Africa wrote me about those diabolical oval-headed screws:

I came across your page at [ ..] while trying to find a solution to those diabolical oval-headed screws (to hell with the manager who made that decision!) and just wanted to share a very simple solution I was lucky enough to come up with.

I have a small screwdriver set that includes the hexagonal M sockets. I figured that since the internal space of a hexagon was longer from corner to corner than it was from side to side I might have one that fitted. As it happened, the 3.5mm one fitted the oval, although not tightly enough for all the screws. My solution was to squash it slightly with a pair of pliers (a vice would have been better) and that worked perfectly.

See attached:

&rew’s socket

I wasn’t able to fix the machine though. The descale flashing refuses to be reset even though taking it apart revealed that it did not need descaling.

Kind regards
&rew

Where in the world are the sockets? A steel socket is with Mary S. in Clive, Iowa.

--

--

Homeowner in northern New Jersey.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store